The former Homeland Security Adviser to former US President George W. Bush Frances Townsend said that she sympathises with how Arab countries, especially Saudi Arabia, feel about the change in the Obama administration’s policies towards them.
In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Townsend said that “While the countries in the region feel that they are surrounded and greatly threatened by the Iranians, they see that their historical ally, the United States, has sided with the enemy who Saudi Arabia has warned us of. However, the Obama administration has not adhered to that advice”.
Townsend added that countries in the region, especially the Gulf states, feel that the Obama administration’s shift in stance is “a form of betrayal” and is detrimental to the historic relations between them and the United States. She continued by saying “In many respects, our security and that of our allies in the region are closely linked. The Saudis have fought with us against terrorism, and Saudi Arabia, in terms of the fight against terrorism, is among our strongest allies. It is also our most competent ally in the region in the fight against Al-Qaeda”.
When asked about the steps that the next president of the United States must take in order to restore the traditional Arab alliances with the United States in the region, Townsend said “From my point of view, the matter requires a restoration of confidence even before being able to build relations. While President Obama has achieved a lot in local politics, the harm done to many of our traditional allies in the region has a historic origin and is not isolated. Not only has our relationship with the Saudis been damaged, but also with the Emiratis and the Bahrainis”.